Black-breasted buzzard

The black-breasted buzzard (Hamirostra melanosternon) is a large raptor endemic to mainland Australia. First described by John Gould in 1841, the it forms part of the family Accipitridae (hawks and eagles) and is most closely related to the square-tailed kite (Lophoictinia isura). It is a versatile hunter known for its special skill in cracking eggs. The species is common throughout most of its range.

Black-breasted buzzard
Black Breasted Buzzard 1
A Black Breasted buzzard in Tswalu Ndbele lion reserve
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Hamirostra
Brown, 1845
Species:
H. melanosternon
Binomial name
Hamirostra melanosternon
(Gould, 1841)
Synonyms
  • Buteo melanosternon Gould, 1841
  • Hamirostra melanosternon Brown, 1845 or 1846[2]
  • Gypoictinia melanosterna Kaup, 1847 [2]

Description

Intermediate in body size between the well-known larger wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax) and the smaller little eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides), the black-breasted buzzard is one of Australia’s largest birds of prey.[3] An adult buzzard measures 51–61 cm in height including its short square tail.[3][4] The buzzard’s outstretched wingspan measures 147–156 cm,[3] rendering the bird distinctive in flight as its wings are conspicuously long relative to its stout body and tail.[5] Buzzards appear sexually monomorphic (identical in physical appearance), although the adult female is slightly larger, weighing approximately 1330 g compared to the 1196 g of the adult male.[3] It is most closely related to the Square-tailed kite (Lophoictinia isura).[4]

The black-breasted buzzard is striking in appearance due to the distinctive markings of the adult plumage. From the underside, the mainly black colouring of the body and wings is contrasted by thick white panels near the end of the wings. From above, the black plumage is broken by a rich mottled red across the back and shoulders. Birds in the immature and juvenile phases of growth display pale brown colouring, with dark to black streaks increasing with age. Chicks have white coloured down, described as ‘hair-like’ on their heads.[3] Adult birds may be individually identified during flight by broken or missing flight feathers, or when perched closely together by subtle differences in the red of the back and shoulders.[4]

The common call of the black-breasted buzzard is described as a repeated hoarse yelping[3] or short sharp yap or yelp.[4] Adult females also make a soft drawn-out wheezing call to solicit their mate to copulate, undertake nest-building, forage for food and defend the nest. Young buzzards also use a wheezing call to solicit food from their parents.[4]

Black-breasted Buzzard (Hamirostra melanosternon) - Flickr - Lip Kee (2)
The distinctive shape and colour of the buzzard in full flight, Mary River, Northern Territory.

Distribution and habitat

The black-breasted buzzard is widely but sparsely distributed throughout northern and inland Australia[3] in areas with less than 500 mm annual rainfall.[5] The buzzard’s range stretches from north-eastern South Australia, north-western New South Wales, northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and the north-western exterior of Western Australia. The buzzard does not occur in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory or Tasmania, due to their wetter temperate climates.[5]

Found to occur in wooded and open habitats, the black-breasted buzzard is most commonly observed in riparian forests and tall-open woodlands surrounded by mid-dense shrublands.[3][6] In a study of raptor habitat association in central Australia, it was most commonly observed in River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) open woodland, demonstrating a significant preference for this habitat type.[6]

Diet

Black breasted buzzard emu egg stage one
A captive buzzard demonstrates how it uses a stone to crack an emu egg.

The black-breasted buzzard hunts a variety of reptiles, small mammals and birds, and raids bird nests to steal eggs and nestlings, including those of other raptor species.[6] Not regarded as a specialist or highly proficient hunter, the buzzard’s diet often includes carrion of large mammals that may be sourced along roads, tracks and creek lines.[5][6]

It uses a variety of methods to search for food, including soaring in transects over low vegetation, undertaking cooperative hunting with conspecifics and observing from high up on unconcealed perches.[6] The buzzard may drop, pounce, dive or glide to attack its prey.[6]

Skilled in terrestrial hunting,[6] the black-breasted buzzard is famous for its use of stones to crack the eggs of large ground-nesting birds such as the Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae), Brolga (Grus rubicundus) and Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis). Stones are either dropped onto or thrown at the eggs to break them open, allowing the buzzard to access the contents for food. The buzzard may also use its beak to crack eggs directly.[7]

Reproduction

The black-breasted buzzard is usually monogamous, forming lifelong pair-bonds.[8] The buzzard nests in trees of notable height and girth, larger and more independent from others generally available.[9] The trees may be dead with bare exposed limbs, or live and foliated, with nests positioned in prominent forks high up in the canopies.[4][9] Both parents contribute equally to nest-building and often work together in unison on the nest structure. Nests are constructed from dead sticks and leafy branches, with materials gathered from the ground or broken off trees and carried to the nest site in feet or beak. Nest dimensions have been measured at 1.2m long x 0.8m wide x 0.4m deep.[4] Nest dimensions are larger than that of any other raptor species, including the larger-bodied wedge-tail eagle.[9]

The black-breasted buzzard lays its eggs from August to October, with breeding believed to be stimulated by increased day length, as well as by increased food availability often linked to rainfall events.[5][9] A usual clutch comprises two eggs laid at an interval of approximately 8–13 days and incubated for a period of 32–38 days.[4] Nestlings remain in the nest for between 68–73 days before fledging around December.[4][9] The female tends the nest for the majority of time while the male hunts and returns food.[4] Usually only one chick per nest survives to fledge each season.[9]

Fresh leafy branches, separate from the basic nest structure, are added periodically during the breeding cycle.[4] This greenery is thought to serve medicinal purposes, such as to aid in parasite and pathogen control, and or to reduce bacteria.[4][10][11] Other hypotheses suggest the greenery may play a role in courtship, and or assist in nestling development. Although known to occur in a variety of avian species from a range of climates and habitats around the world, this behaviour is not yet fully understood.[11]

Conservation

Hamirostra melanosternon -Australia-8
The semi-arid habitat of the black-breasted buzzard, Australia.

The current IUCN Red List ranks the black-breasted buzzard of Least Concern.[1][8][12] While it is not listed as a conservation concern by the Australian Commonwealth,[5] it is listed as Vulnerable in New South Wales and Rare in South Australia.[5][12] Recent studies have assessed the black-breasted buzzard as one of many avian species of particular conservation concern in the Western Division of New South Wales.[13] The global population estimate for the black-breasted buzzard is uncertain, varying between 1000–10,000 individuals.[12]

There has been a significant decline amongst Australian raptor species including the black-breasted buzzard since European settlement in the late 1700s.[14] Historic records indicate the black-breasted buzzard became extinct in some areas of its former range by as early as the 1930s.[14] Causes of population declines in raptor species of the arid and semi-arid regions of Australia include broad-scale landscape changes due to extensive pastoralism and clearing of native vegetation; overgrazing by stock, feral animals and increased kangaroo populations; altered fire regimes; the introduction of destructive feral predators such as the house cat (Felis catus) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes); and the cessation of traditional Aboriginal hunting and land management practices.[13][14] Intense periods of drought through the 1900s and 2000s are known to have compounded the impacts on already stressed raptor communities.[6][14]

Inadvertent poisoning of raptors through ingestion of prey killed by toxins is a well-known threat to raptor species worldwide[15][16][17] and a likely contributor to their decline in Australia.[5][18] Such toxins are frequently introduced to the environment by humans to combat pest animals and plague insects.[5][15][16][17][18] Other potential causes of decline include direct persecution by humans in the form of illegal egg collection and shooting[5] which has been recorded in a number of Australian raptor species, for example the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in South Australia.[19] and Europe[18] and the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax fleayi).[20]

Climate change leading to increased periods of drought in the arid and semi-arid areas of Australia[21][22] is a concern for the survival of many raptors species, particularly those with specialist diets dependent on a limited array of prey species.[6] The black-breasted buzzard has a varied diet including carrion that may afford it some resilience in the face of intense drought when carcasses of perished large mammals become abundant.[6] However, it also has a year-round preference for living and nesting in the riparian zones of creek lines and drainage channels.[6][9] As these tend to dry up under drought conditions,[21][22] resultant habitat loss is likely to threaten the buzzard’s reproductive viability and survival.[5] More frequent and intense wildfire events will also increasingly contribute to the decline of large trees and potential black-breasted buzzard habitat.[9][13]

A program of landscape conservation that engages all land managers and stakeholders and includes the protection of existing habitat and revegetation of lost habitat, is considered the first step in protecting the black-breasted buzzard, its relatives and the overall biodiversity of arid and semi-arid Australia.[5][13][21][22]

References

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Hamirostra melanosternon". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012: e.T22695014A40346981. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012-1.RLTS.T22695014A40346981.en.
  2. ^ Brown, Thomas (1846). Illustrations of the genera of birds, embracing their generic characters; with sketches of their habits. London. part 8, sign. B4. The actual publication date is disputed as either 1845 or 1846 [1]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Debus, S. (2012). Birds of Prey of Australia: A Field Guide. Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 9780643104372.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Nunn, P. J.; Pavey, C. R. (2014). "Breeding biology of a pair of Black-breasted Buzzards Hamirostra melanosteron near Alice Springs, Northern Territory, including response to nest destruction". Australian Field Ornithology. 31: 51–76.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Black-breasted Buzzard – Profile". NSW Government, Office of Environment and Heritage. 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Aumann, T. (2001). "Habitat use, temporal activity patterns and foraging behaviour of raptors in the south-west of the Northern Territory, Australia". Wildlife Research. 28 (4): 365–378. doi:10.1071/wr99091.
  7. ^ Aumann, T (1990). "Use of stones by the Black-breasted Buzzard Hamirostra melanosteron to gain access to egg contents for food". Emu. 90 (3): 141–144. doi:10.1071/mu9900141.
  8. ^ a b Debus, S.; Boesman, P.; Marks, J.S. (2015). "Black-breasted Buzzard (Hamirostra melanosteron". In del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Aumann, T (2001). "Breeding biology of raptors in the south-west of the Northern Territory, Australia". Emu. 101 (4): 305–315. doi:10.1071/mu00073.
  10. ^ Dubiec, A.; Gozdz, I.; Mazgajski, T. D. (2013). "Green plant material in avian nests". Avian Biology Research. 6 (2): 133–146. doi:10.3184/175815513x13615363233558.
  11. ^ a b Wimberger, P. H. (1984). "The Use of Green Plant Material in Bird Nests to Avoid Ectoparasites". The Auk. 101 (3): 615–618.
  12. ^ a b c "Hamirostra melanosteron (Gould, 1841)". Atlas of Living Australia. 2015.
  13. ^ a b c d Smith, P. J.; Pressey, R. L.; Smith, J. E. (1994). "Birds of particular conservation concern in the Western Division of New South Wales". Biological Conservation. 69 (3): 315–338. doi:10.1016/0006-3207(94)90432-4.
  14. ^ a b c d Woinarski, J. C. Z.; Catterall, C. P. (2004). "Historical changes in the bird fauna at Coomooboolaroo, northeastern Australia, from the early years of pastoral settlement (1873) to 1999". Biological Conservation. 116 (3): 379–401. doi:10.1016/s0006-3207(03)00231-3.
  15. ^ a b Koeman, J. H.; van Genderen, H. (1966). "Some preliminary notes on residues of chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides in birds and mammals in the Netherlands". Journal of Applied Ecology. 3 (supplement): 99–106. doi:10.2307/2401448. JSTOR 2401448.
  16. ^ a b Tosh, D. G.; Shore, R. F.; Jess, S.; Withers, A.; Bearhop, S.; Montgomery, W. I.; McDonald, R. A. (2011). "User behaviour, best practice and the risks of non-target exposure associated with anticoagulant rodenticide use". Journal of Environmental Management. 92 (6): 1503–1508. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2010.12.014.
  17. ^ a b Herholdt, J. J. (1998). "Survival, threats and conservation management of raptors in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. 53 (2): 201–218. doi:10.1080/00359199809520387.
  18. ^ a b c Bierregaard, R.O.; Poole, A. F.; Washburn, B. E. (2014). "Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) in the 21st century: Populations, migration, management, and research priorities". The Journal of Raptor Research. 48 (4): 301–308. doi:10.3356/0892-1016-48.4.301.
  19. ^ Dennis, T. E. (2007). "Distribution and status of the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in South Australia". Emu. 107 (3803): 294–299. doi:10.1071/mu07009.
  20. ^ Bekessy, S. A.; Wintle, B. A.; Gordon, A.; Fox, J.C.; Chisholm, R.; Brown, B.; Regan, T.; Mooney, N.; Read, S. M.; Burgman, M. A. (2009). "Modelling human impacts on the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax fleayi)". Biological Conservation. 142 (11): 2438–2448. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2009.05.010.
  21. ^ a b c Davis, J.; Pavlova, A.; Thompson, R.; Sunnucks, P. (2013). "Evolutionary refugia and ecological refuges: Key concepts for conserving Australian arid zone freshwater biodiversity under climate change". Global Change Biology. 19 (7): 1970–1984. doi:10.1111/gcb.12203. PMC 3746109.
  22. ^ a b c Arthington, A. H.; Olden, J. D.; Balcombe, S. R.; Thoms, M. C. (2010). "Multi-scale environmental factors explain fish losses and refuge quality in drying waterholes of Cooper Creek, an Australian arid-zone river". Marine and Freshwater Research. 61 (8): 842–856. doi:10.1071/mf09096.

External links

[3] NSW Government - Threatened Species Profile

  • [4] Birdlife International - Species Factsheet
  • [5] Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive - Black-breasted Buzzard
  • [6] Atlas of Living Australia - Species Profile
  • [7] Birds in Backyards - Species Profile
Henicopernis

Henicopernis is a genus of bird of prey in the Accipitridae family. It contains the following species:

Black honey buzzard (Henicopernis infuscatus)

Long-tailed honey buzzard (Henicopernis longicauda)Both species are endemic to New Guinea. Genetic research has found that they are closely related to the Australian endemic square-tailed kite (Lophoictinia isura) and black-breasted buzzard (Hamirostra melanosternon), all sharing a 3-base-pair deletion in the RAG-1 gene. The four species form a monophyletic clade sister to Aviceda within the subfamily Perninae. It has been proposed that they could be united into a single genus, Hamirostra having precedence.

Kings Canyon (Northern Territory)

Kings Canyon is a canyon in the Northern Territory of Australia located at the western end of the George Gill Range about 323 kilometres (201 mi) southwest of Alice Springs and about 1,316 kilometres (818 mi) south of Darwin within the Watarrka National Park.

Kite (bird)

Kite is a common name for certain birds of prey in the family Accipitridae, particularly in subfamilies Milvinae, Elaninae, and Perninae.Some authors use the terms "hovering kite" and "soaring kite" to distinguish between Elanus and the milvine kites, respectively. The groups may also be differentiated by size, referring to milvine kites as "large kites", and elanine kites as "small kites".

List of Falconiformes by population

This is a list of Falconiformes and Accipitriformes species by global population. While numbers are estimates, they have been made by the experts in their fields. For more information on how these estimates were ascertained, see Wikipedia's articles on population biology and population ecology.

This list is incomprehensive, as not all Falconiformes have had their numbers quantified.

List of birds of Australia

This is a list of the wild birds found in Australia including its outlying islands and territories, but excluding the Australian Antarctic Territory. The outlying islands covered include: Christmas, Cocos (Keeling), Ashmore, Torres Strait, Coral Sea, Lord Howe, Norfolk, Macquarie and Heard/McDonald. The list includes introduced species, common vagrants and recently extinct species. It excludes extirpated introductions, some very rare vagrants (seen once) and species only present in captivity. Eight hundred and forty-two extant species are listed.

There have been three comprehensive accounts: the first was John Goulds Birds of Australia, the second Gregory Mathews, and third was the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (1990-2006).

The taxonomy followed is from Christidis and Boles, 2008. Their system has been developed over nearly two decades and has strong local support, but deviates in important ways from more generally accepted schemes.

List of birds of Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica

This list is based on the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds list, May 2002 update, with the doubtfuls omitted. It includes the birds of Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, and the surrounding ocean and subantarctic islands.

Australian call-ups are based on the List of Australian birds.

New Zealand call-ups are based on the List of New Zealand birds.

List of birds of South Australia

This is a list of birds of South Australia, a state within Australia.

List of birds of Tasmania

A total of 262 species of bird have been recorded living in the wild on the island of Tasmania, nearby islands and islands in Bass Strait, 182 of which are regularly recorded, while another 79 are vagrants and one is extinct. Birds of Macquarie Island are not included in this list. Twelve species are unique (endemic) to the island of Tasmania, and most of these are common and widespread. However, the forty-spotted pardalote is rare and restricted, while the island's two breeding endemic species, the world's only migratory parrots, are both threatened. Several species of penguin are late summer visitors to Tasmanian shores. Tasmania's endemic birds have led to it being classified as an Endemic Bird Area (EBA), one of 218 such areas worldwide. Priority regions for habitat-based conservation of birds around the world, they are defined by containing two or more restricted-range (endemic) species.Although Tasmania has been isolated from the Australian mainland for about 10,000 years, islands in the Bass Strait between the two landmasses have allowed many species to traverse. With around 5,400 km (3,400 mi) of coastline and 350 offshore islands, Tasmania provides a diverse haven for birds despite its relatively small size. Birds are abundant in Tasmanian wetlands and waterways, and ten of these habitats are internationally important and protected under the Ramsar Convention. Many migratory birds make use of the bays, mudflats and beaches for feeding, including the threatened hooded plover and little tern, both of which breed along the coast. The near-coastal button grass grasslands of the southwest, harbour the breeding grounds of the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot. Many of the rarer species dwell in Tasmania's eucalyptus (sclerophyll) forests or rainforests, which cover much of the island.The common and scientific names and taxonomic arrangement follow the conventions laid out in the 2008 publication Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Unless otherwise noted, all species listed below are considered to occur, or have occurred since European settlement in the case of extinct species, regularly in Tasmania as permanent residents, summer or winter visitors, or migrants. The following codes denote certain categories of species:

(I) – Introduced: Birds that have been introduced to Tasmania by humans

(Ex) – Extinct

(V) – Uncommon vagrants to Tasmania

(E) – Endemic to Tasmania

List of birds of Victoria, Australia

This is a list of birds of Victoria, Australia.

Victoria is Australia's second-smallest state but has high biodiversity, with 516 bird species recorded — around 54% of Australia's total of 959 bird species in just 3% of Australia's land area.Birds are present in high concentrations in some areas, including the Western Treatment Plant at Werribee in Melbourne's suburbs, which is a haven for tens of thousands of birds, due to a combination of permanent water, varied landforms and plant species.Victoria contains a wider variety of natural habitats than any area of similar size in Australia. Habitats range from warm temperate rainforest in the far east of the state (East Gippsland), cool temperate rainforest, heathlands, mallee (stunted eucalypt) scrubland, grasslands, open woodland, montane forest, permanent lakes, estuaries, large permanent rivers, ocean and bay coastline. 4 million hectares of the state's 23.7 million hectare total land and marine area is protected in National Parks and conservation reserves.

List of birds of Western Australia

The following is a list of birds sighted in Western Australia.

List of endemic birds of Australia

This article is one of a series providing information about endemism among birds in the world's various zoogeographic zones. For an overview of this subject see Endemism in birds.

Milvinae

The Milvinae kites are found in the family Accipitridae. Many taxonomic authorities have the subfamily under revision.

Genus Harpagus

Double-toothed kite, Harpagus bidentatus

Rufous-thighed kite, Harpagus diodon

Genus Ictinia

Mississippi kite, Ictinia mississippiensis

Plumbeous kite, Ictinia plumbea

Genus Rostrhamus

Snail kite, Rostrhamus sociabilis

Genus Helicolestes

Slender-billed kite, Helicolestes hamatus

Genus Lophoictinia

Square-tailed kite, Lophoictinia isura

Genus Hamirostra

Black-breasted buzzard, Hamirostra melanosternon

Genus Haliastur

Brahminy kite, Haliastur indus

Whistling kite, Haliastur sphenurus

Genus Milvus

Red kite, Milvus milvus

Black kite,'Milvus migrans

Yellow-billed kite, Milvus aegyptius

Nemegtomaia

Nemegtomaia is a genus of oviraptorid dinosaur from what is now Mongolia that lived in the Late Cretaceous Period, about 70 million years ago. The first specimen was found in 1996, and became the basis of the new genus and species N. barsboldi in 2004. The original genus name was Nemegtia, but this was changed to Nemegtomaia in 2005, as the former name was preoccupied. The first part of the generic name refers to the Nemegt Basin, where the animal was found, and the second part means "good mother", in reference to the fact that oviraptorids are known to have brooded their eggs. The specific name honours the palaeontologist Rinchen Barsbold. Two more specimens were found in 2007, one of which was found on top of a nest with eggs, but the dinosaur had received its genus name before it was found associated with eggs.

Nemegtomaia is estimated to have been around 2 m (7 ft) in length, and to have weighed 40 kg (85 lb). As an oviraptorosaur, it would have been feathered. It had a deep, narrow, and short skull, with an arched crest. It was toothless, had a short snout with a parrot-like beak, and a pair of tooth-like projections on its palate. It had three fingers; the first was largest and bore a strong claw. Nemegtomaia is classified as a member of the oviraptorid subfamily Ingeniinae, and it the only known member of this group with a cranial crest. Though Nemegtomaia has been used to suggest that oviraptorosaurs were flightless birds, the clade is generally considered a group of non-avian dinosaurs.

The nesting Nemegtomaia specimen was placed on top of what was probably a ring of eggs, with its arms folded across them. None of the eggs are complete, but they are estimated to have been 5 to 6 cm (2 to 2.3 in) wide and 14 to 16 cm (5 to 6 in) long when intact. The specimen was found in a stratigraphic area that indicates Nemegtomaia preferred nesting near streams that would provide soft, sandy substrate and food. Nemegtomaia may have protected its eggs by covering them with its tail and wing feathers. The skeleton of the nesting specimen has damage that indicates it was scavenged by skin beetles. The diet of oviraptorids is uncertain, but their skulls are most similar to other animals that are known or thought to have been herbivorous. Nemegtomaia is known from the Nemegt and Baruungoyot Formations, which are thought to represent humid and arid environments that coexisted in the same area,

Red goshawk

The red goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus) is probably the rarest Australian bird of prey. It is found mainly in the savanna woodlands of northern Australia, particularly near watercourses. It takes a broad range of live prey, mostly birds.

Sibley-Monroe checklist 8

The Sibley-Monroe checklist was a landmark document in the study of birds. It drew on extensive DNA-DNA hybridisation studies to reassess the relationships between modern birds.

Sturt National Park

The Sturt National Park is a protected national park that is located in the arid far north-western corner of New South Wales, in eastern Australia. The 325,329-hectare (803,910-acre) national park is situated approximately 1,060 kilometres (660 mi) northwest of Sydney and the nearest town is Tibooburra, 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) away.

Established in 1972, the park is named in honour of Charles Sturt, a colonial explorer. The park features typical outback scenery of flat, reddish-brown landscapes. It was resumed from five pastoral properties. The Sturt National Park was featured in British documentary called Planet Earth. The Dingo Fence was built along the national park's northern boundary.

Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park

Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park is a protected area located in Northern Territory of Australia. The park is home to both Uluru and Kata Tjuta. It is located 1,943 kilometres (1,207 mi) south of Darwin by road and 440 kilometres (270 mi) south-west of Alice Springs along the Stuart and Lasseter Highways. The park covers 1,326 square kilometres (512 sq mi) and includes the features it is named after: Uluru and, 40 kilometres (25 mi) to its west, Kata Tjuta. The location is listed with UNESCO World Heritage sites.

White-bellied sea eagle

The white-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), also known as the white-breasted sea eagle, is a large diurnal bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. Originally described by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1788, it is closely related to Sanford's sea eagle of the Solomon Islands, and the two are considered a superspecies. A distinctive bird, the adult white-bellied sea eagle has a white head, breast, under-wing coverts and tail. The upper parts are grey and the black under-wing flight feathers contrast with the white coverts. The tail is short and wedge-shaped as in all Haliaeetus species. Like many raptors, the female is slightly larger than the male, and can measure up to 90 cm (35 in) long with a wingspan of up to 2.2 m (7.2 ft), and weigh 4.5 kg (9.9 lb). Immature birds have brown plumage, which is gradually replaced by white until the age of five or six years. The call is a loud goose-like honking.

Resident from India and Sri Lanka through Southeast Asia to Australia on coasts and major waterways, the white-bellied sea eagle breeds and hunts near water, and fish form around half of its diet. Opportunistic, it consumes carrion and a wide variety of animals. Although rated as Least Concern globally, it has declined in parts of southeast Asia such as Thailand, and southeastern Australia. It is ranked as Threatened in Victoria and Vulnerable in South Australia and Tasmania. Human disturbance to its habitat is the main threat, both from direct human activity near nests which impacts on breeding success, and from removal of suitable trees for nesting. The white-bellied sea eagle is revered by indigenous people in many parts of Australia, and is the subject of various folk tales throughout its range.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.